Systematically Designing Businesses Fit-for-the-Future

Knowledge Hub

Antony Upward

May 15, 2024

Business leaders and entrepreneurs are faced with ever greater amounts of complexity—driven by an interconnected set of social, environmental, and economic mega-forces of change.

Their challenge is how to effectively respond.  One area requiring a response is how to create strategies for established organizations, and how to start new organizations, in ways that usefully engage with this growing complexity.

A proven approach to engaging with complexity in strategy and startups is business model design.  However, existing business modeling tools, strategies, and startup methods only recognize the financial complexity.  This means that the growing number of increasingly material risks and opportunities arising from the social and environmental context for all organizations will systematically be missed—creating a huge risk for leaders.

The Flourishing Business Canvas and its associated methods for its effective use is a fully systems-based approach to designing strategies and starting new enterprises in light of their full social, environmental, and economic contexts – all the possible sources of risk and opportunity in today’s world.

The Flourishing Business Canvas was developed based on rigorous and peer-reviewed academic research and 10 years of testing by 320 organizations and individuals in 47 countries around the world.  Since 2023, it has been freely available under a Creative Commons license and is now in use by 1000s of established businesses, startups, coaches, consultants, accelerators, and incubators, including the pan-EU climate change initiative, the national innovation agency of Norway and Canada’s larger centre for social innovation.

The video describes this visual collaborative business modelling tool and its methods and how it is applied to designing your business that is fit for the future that is unfolding around us—socially, environmentally, and economically.

Flourishing Business Canvas

The Flourishing Business Canvas is a visual and collaborative tool to help us design businesses fit for our increasingly complex world. This tool allows leaders to create businesses that are socially beneficial, environmentally regenerative and financially rewarding in the 21st Century.


As a business architect, Antony Upward believes that business must play a key role in enabling the future well-being of humanity and all other life. He is the originator of the Flourishing Business Canvas. He is a Certified Management Consultant with 35 years of experience, a visiting professor at universities in Canada and Sweden, and holds a Master of Environmental Studies in Business Model Design and Sustainability from York University, Toronto, Canada. He was born in the UK and is now based in Toronto, Canada. Antony Upward/LinkedIn


AI-generated meeting summary

Notes (by Milena Tasic)

During the event, Antony shared his extensive expertise and celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Flourishing Business Canvas. There was also lots of opportunity for community discussion. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Antony introduced ‘flourishing’ as an optimization goal beyond mere sustainability. The Canvas is a holistic tool developed over three years of research to rethink business models, encompassing social, environmental, and financial aspects. We discussed the value of completing the canvas in collaboration with stakeholders, rather than individually.
  • The Flourishing Business Canvas has been rigorously tested over a decade and is now used worldwide by thousands of entrepreneurs and business leaders. It is compatible with the original Business Modeling Canvas and has been standardized by the National Innovation Agency of Norway.
  • The Flourishing Enterprise Innovation Toolkit was introduced, whose purpose is to enable leaders to close their innovation gaps to sustainable flourishing. It empowers innovators to apply the latest science, ethics and traditional wisdoms effectively and gracefully. It is evolving and has plans to add to it in the future based on time and funding.
  • The shift from traditional forecasting to a “flourishing future” strategy was discussed, which defines a company’s purpose within a post-growth, inclusive, and just economy, society, and environment. He introduced “backcasting,” a methodology to explore long-term futures while addressing immediate needs.
  • Antony explained the ABCD (Ability, Belief, Capacity, and Desire) method, which involves defining a vision of success, evaluating the current state, identifying required innovations, and choosing aligned solutions. This method supports iterative business model refinement and has been adapted for various sectors.

About the Flourishing Business Canvas

Any questions can be directed to Antony Upward,

Relevant links:

Flourishing Business
Flourishing Business Canvas (PDF download)